Public Urination (Public Nuisance) – California Penal Code PC 372

Posted by Raoul Severo | Nov 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

Although there is no specific law in California regarding public urination, urinating in a public place is a crime in every state. Acts like these are considered public nuisances.

Public Nuisance

Public nuisances are small-scale civil offenses that threaten society's health, morals, safety, comfort, convenience, or welfare. Violators may be punished by a criminal sentence, a fine, or both. A defendant may also be required to remove a nuisance or to pay the costs of removal. For example, a manufacturer who has polluted a stream might be fined and might also be ordered to pay cleanup. Public nuisances may interfere with public health, such as keeping diseased animals or a malarial pond. Public safety nuisances include shooting fireworks in the streets, storing explosives, practicing medicine without a license, or harboring a vicious dog. Houses of prostitution, illegal liquor establishments, gaming houses, and unlicensed prizefights are examples of nuisances that interfere with public morals. Obstructing a highway or creating a condition to make travel unsafe or highly disagreeable are examples of nuisances threatening public convenience.

A public nuisance interferes with the public as a class, not merely one person or a group of citizens. No civil remedy exists for a private citizen harmed by a public nuisance, even if their harm was more significant than the harm suffered by others; a criminal prosecution is an exclusive remedy. However, if the individual suffers harm that is different from that suffered by the general public, the individual may maintain a tort action for damages. For example, if dynamiting has thrown a large boulder onto a public highway, those who use the highway cannot keep a nuisance action for the inconvenience. However, a motorist who is injured from colliding with the boulder may bring a tort action for personal injuries.

PC 372

California Penal Code PC 372 is the statute that penalizes public nuisance. It states that every person who maintains or commits any public nuisance, the punishment for which is not otherwise prescribed, or who willfully omits to perform any legal duty relating to the removal of a public nuisance, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Penalties for Violating PC 372

Public urination, like other public nuisances, are usually charged as misdemeanors. The punishment for committing a public nuisance under Penal Code 372 could include:

  • Summary probation,
  • Serving a six-month sentence in county jail, and/or
  • A five hundred dollars ($500) fine.

Most cities and counties have ordinances that prohibit public urination. Ordinances are rules or laws created by a municipal authority. Ordinances can be misdemeanors or infractions per Government Code 36900

  • Serving a six-month sentence in county jail, and/or
  • A one thousand dollar ($1,000) fine.

An infraction of public urination is punishable by a fine ranging from one hundred dollars ($100) to five hundred dollars ($500). Infractions do not allow for jail time.

Urinating public transportation or a public transportation facility is a misdemeanor under Penal Code 640 (excluding bathrooms). The punishment for a violation of this section is:

  • three months jail, and/or
  • a four hundred dollar ($400) fine.

Other code sections sometimes involve public urination. Disorderly conduct under Penal Code 647(f) consists of being drunk and/or intoxicated in public. The level of intoxication must be such that the person cannot care for their own safety. Disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor punishable by:

  • six months in jail, and/or
  • a thousand dollar ($1,000) fine.

If someone exposes themselves while urinating in public, it could lead to an indecent exposure charge. Under Penal Code 314 PC, every person who:

  • willfully and lewdly,
  • exposes his private parts,
  • in a public place,
  • or where there are other persons to be offended or annoyed,
  • is guilty of a misdemeanor.

A misdemeanor violation of Penal Code 314 PC is punishable by up to:

Legal Support

Public urination and other public nuisance may seem like a minor offense; however, the act's consequences can be severe. It can result in serious physical injury if not death. Especially the fact that it can be linked to the highly nuanced comparative negligence law. When facing legal disputes, be it major or minor, it would be the involved party's best decision to seek legal support from our experienced California lawyers. They can help victims with their rightful and just compensation that equates to the damages inflicted upon them or allow the defendant to lower the charges and penalties, if not dismiss them.

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